The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

COVID-19 Curses St. John’s as Seton Hall Dismantles Red Storm

Sans Rick Pitino, St. John’s looked like a shell of themselves.
In 22 minutes of play, sophomore forward Zuby Ejiofor tallied 13 points, four rebounds and two assists.
Torch Photo / Sara Kiernan

With St. John’s on the brink of national recognition, Tuesday night’s clash with Seton Hall carried significant weight. Head coach Rick Pitino and company, fresh off a controversial heart-breaking loss at Creighton, were hungry for redemption. However, just hours before tip-off, Pitino was ruled out with COVID-19 and graduate guard Jordan Dingle was sidelined with an illness. Associate head coach Steve Masiello stepped into Pitino’s role for the evening. 

The last minute development was gut-wrenching for the Red Storm, with the first five minutes of action proving why.

Seton Hall began the game on a 13-2 run, holding St. John’s to an abysmal 1-12 from the field and seizing early momentum. Despite the rocky start, the Red Storm showed resilience, responding with their own 8-0 run courtesy of graduate guard Daniss Jenkins (17 pts., 5 asst.). 

Following the challenging opening stretch, St. John’s shot 10-16, tying the contest at 24 and signaling signs of life. Unfortunately, the Red Storm would fall right back into a slump, one that would effectively end the game. They would not score for the remainder of the half, allowing a 14-0 run and trailing Seton Hall 38-24 at the break. 

The end of the first half marked the beginning of a near nine-minute scoring drought for St. John’s, allowing the Pirates to extend their run to 28-0 before the Red Storm finally responded. Former St. John’s senior guard Dylan Addae-Wusu and senior guard Al-Amir Dawes combined for 37 points, seemingly toying with the shorthanded Red Storm. 

After the opening punch to the mouth, the Red Storm showed little fight. The game was nowhere near as close as the 80-65 final score indicated, proving a cause for concern with another grueling task lined up this Saturday. 

Following a nail-biting win over Providence, St. John’s boasted a 4-1 start to conference play, their best since 2001. However, two consecutive conference losses eliminated any hope for a national ranking and knocked the Red Storm down from atop of the Big East. 

In the post game press conference, Masiello offered his thoughts on the blowout loss. 

“This is college basketball. Adversity’s gonna happen every day, you have to respond to it. We didn’t respond very well,” he said. “We missed Coach [Pitino] tonight, no doubt about it.”

Jenkins also commented on St. John’s worst showing this season. 

“It’s unacceptable, especially coming off of a road loss,” the Iona transfer said. “We were supposed to come out and correct those little things to make us not lose on the road again, and instead we did the opposite.”

In the upcoming Saturday afternoon matchup with No. 17 Marquette, the Red Storm aim to prove the blowout loss as an aberration and not a sign of things to come. With Pitino’s status uncertain, there will be concern that another uninspiring performance could be on the horizon.

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About the Contributor
Kyler Fox, Asst. Sports Editor
Kyler is a junior journalism student serving as an Assistant Sports Editor. Outside of The Torch, Kyler is a contributor for both A Daly Dose of Hoops and Last Word on Sports. When he isn’t writing, you can either find him keeping up with his favorite sports teams or checking out the latest sneaker drops.

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